Barack Obama should not have won this election. Period.
Beyond the Republican juggernaut that focused all its energy on preventing his re-election since the day he took office (wow, juggies, look how much time you wasted), unemployment is still too high and gasoline prices even higher, the war in Afghanistan still drags on, four Americans were slaughtered in the Libyan embassy attack, and the economy remains on life support.
Things are eerily reminiscent of the Jimmy Carter years, when we were grappling with essentially the same problems: expensive gasoline (rationing and long lines at the pump then vs. high prices causing self-imposed
rationing now), tension in the Middle East (hostage crisis in Iran vs. nuclear threat in Iran) and manmade environmental mega-disasters (Three Mile Island vs. Gulf oil spill).
The shadow of the Carter administration seemed to fall over Obama, and I wondered if he’d suffer the same one-term fate. Even without relentless Republican obstruction, times are tough. People are hurting. They might like Obama and vote for the other guy anyway, just to stop the bleeding.
Although there were many Carter/Obama parallels, there was one key difference that sealed Carter’s fate: Ronald Reagan. Simple, soft-spoken Carter, as jazzy as dust, had no chance against that charismatic codger. Reagan was the firm but kindly (and sometimes charmingly addled) granddad in whose lap the country desperately wanted to climb and be comforted. Nobody could touch Reagan in that department.
As for actual effectiveness? I was never that impressed with him. I don’t understand why Republicans worship him so. But I don’t get Brad Pitt either. I guess it’s a matter of preference.
So, although Obama faced similar troubles and turmoil that Carter did, Obama can sneeze more charisma than Carter, and his opponent was definitely no Ronald Reagan. There was still hope. In contrast to Reagan, Mitt Romney didn’t make you feel warm and cozy like dear old granddad. No, he just made you feel creepy and weird, and climb up on his lap? No way. And, it’s not just Democrats who felt no warmth for Romney. Start pressing your Republican friends. Ask them to list what they really like about Romney. See if the list is longer than “He’s not Barack Obama.”
I don’t personally know a single Republican who really liked Romney. He was a “hold your nose and vote” candidate. Those hardcore Republicans who will never support a Democrat just on principle would’ve voted for Tickle Me Elmo instead of Obama, and in this crap economy, Elmo might’ve won. Romney, who’s far less appealing than our furry red friend, couldn’t attract anyone other than diehard Republicans.
That said, I put to you that Romney’s loss wasn’t really about Romney. It was about the party itself, and what it has become. This is the second presidential election where Republicans got routed. It’s a warning. If the Republican Party is to remain relevant (if it even is anymore), it must do some serious self-examination.
As it stands, the Republican Party has become the sewer trap for the Sarah Palins and Glenn Becks and Todd Akinses, and the whole parade of bitter, misinformed fear-fanning delusional shills that infest Fox “News.” The dregs of the Radical Religious Right has become the Republican base, and as long as the party accepts that, Republican candidates will continue to go down the drain on Election Day.
Republicans, a major overhaul of your constituency is in order. You need to redefine your base if you are to survive. It’s your “Come to Reagan” moment, guys.
As for those of you won’t believe Barack Obama isn’t a secret Muslim until you see his birth certificate, you’re dismissed from the conversation. Be a good girl or boy and go watch Fox & Friends. The grownups need to talk now.
How, given the money and might of the Republican political machine, did a semi-effective Democrat foundering in economic quicksand manage to soundly spank your candidate? Was it because Romney, although the least broken, or weird, inhabitant from the Island of Misfit Toys was, in the end, still a misfit toy in the eyes of the majority? No. That answer’s too easy; too glib. And in this economy, the cowboy on the ostrich could’ve beaten Obama.
It wasn’t Romney. It’s bigger than that, as evidenced not just by the Presidential race but the Senate race: Democrats, particularly women, gobbled up Senate seats. Why? Because the party, by its silence, condoned the misogynistic, bonehead comments of its candidates. If you marginalize half the population it matters. Ditto for minorities.
Women and minorities. They vote.
Republican Party leaders are the horny frat boy on the couch with his tongue down the Radical Religious Right’s throat while sliding his free hand up the tea party’s skirt, oblivious to the party groovin’ on around him because he thinks he’s gonna score with one, the other, or both. He’s so busy getting’ busy that he doesn’t notice the party’s thinning out. Everyone’s heading home. And suddenly, there he is, nothing left but greasy pizza boxes and empty beer cans, and a bowser on each arm. Dang, they were a lot cuter when the lights were out.
“Hey, big boy, how ’bout a liplock now?”
And our frat boy throws up in his mouth a little, and thinks two words: coyote ugly.
I’m dead serious. If the Republican Party is to survive, then chew off its own arms it must. Don’t blame Romney. Pandering to the lunatic fringe while alienating women and minorities cost the Republicans this election. Period. Even with a “hold your nose” candidate, it should’ve been a cakewalk. Instead, women and minorities shoved that cake in your face. And they’ll do it again unless you wise up.
You choose, Republicans: keep making out with the losers, or get up and dance with a new base. Look around. Your party’s over. You know what you need to do: Start chewing.
— Email Debra DeAngelo, winner of the 2012 Best Serious Column award in the National Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest, at firstname.lastname@example.org; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.edebra.com